One of the oldest recorded herbs in history, rosemary is the “herb of remembrance” in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and has been carried by mourners at funerals as well as by brides at their weddings. It has also been carried in pouches to ward off the plague during the 16th century, used by Greek fishermen as a preservative for their catch and worn by Greek scholars as garlands to improve memory and concentration. According to legend, it received the name “Rose of Mary” because during the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, Mary draped her cloak over the bush and its flowers turned from white to blue. Rosemary is also known as the “Christmas Herb,” and supposedly brings good luck to homes when it blooms at Christmastime.
Native to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, Rosmarinus, is Latin for “dew of the sea.” Rosemary is a shrubby plant with needle-like evergreen leaves, which are dark & glossy on top and grey-green and downy underneath, are pungent and somewhat piney scented which likes a sunny location with well-drained soil. There are many varieties of both prostrate and upright rosemary with small blue, pink or white flowers, but Rosemary “Arp” is the hardiest surviving to zone 6. Seeds are difficult to germinate and grow slow, so the best propagation is either cuttings or layering. Once established, rosemary does not like to be moved, but if it likes its location it can last for 30 years! Trim lightly and to encourage sturdier stems and a stronger fragrance add Epsom salts to soil. In the garden, it deters cabbage moths, bean beetles and carrot fly. Rosemary also makes a great indoor potted plant, topiary or bonsai as long as the conditions are just right. It prefers cramped roots to flower, high humidity, lots of sun, good air circulation and cool temperatures and is unforgiving of under or over watering. Indoors or out you can snip bunches and hang to air dry or refrigerate for as long as two weeks.
Because of its strong somewhat piney, mint-like flavor with a hint of ginger, a smidgen of rosemary may be all you need in cooking. It is especially good with foods rich in fats like meats or with otherwise bland foods such as potatoes and also combines well with oranges. Add rosemary to breads, butters, jellies or fruit salads for sweetness without sugar plus stews and soups with beans, peas or mushrooms. It also may be used as a basting brush for grilling and refreshing summer lemonade. Rosemary flowers, with their milder flavor, can also be added fresh or candied to dishes. A tea made with rosemary, one of the strongest antioxidant herbs, may be used for headache and indigestion or as a gargle for bad breath. It also works well to heal sore muscles and tired nerves when added to the bath or to decrease dandruff as a hair rinse.
Dried rosemary should be soaked in hot water
before being added to uncooked foods.
When used in cooking, rosemary should be
added to the dish at the beginning so that its full
aromatic flavor can permeate the food slowly.
ROSEMARY CHEESE BISCUIT
1 3/4c Bisquick
1/3 c. water
3/4c shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 c. melted butter
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary
Combine Bisquick, cheese, and rosemary. Add water and form into a ball. Divide into 12 pieces, roll into balls, and dip into melted butter. Place into greased muffin tins and bake at 350 for 15 mins.
ROSEMARY ORANGE COOKIES
3 1/2c flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1c sour cream
1 orange, juice & rind
1Tbs dried rosemary
Mix butter & sugar. Add eggs, sour cream, orange juice & rind. Blend in dry ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 mins.
Glaze: Mix 1 c powdered sugar with the juice & rind of 1 orange. Frost while still warm.
Steep 1 cup of rosemary sprigs in a pan of boiling water, then cool and strain. Prepare your favorite lemonade using the rosemary tea as part of the liquid. Serve cold, with lemon twists and rosemary sprigs.
". . . I have given you all things even as the green herbs."